Myanmar: Elder Slapped with 7 Years for “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance” Banner

HONG KONG (FDI) — 71-year-old Mr. Chan stands quietly by the side of a Myanmar road. He unfolds a little yellow banner that reads “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance” as he patiently waits for Jiang Zemin’s motorcade to drive by.

Within seconds he is pounced upon by local police. Under the gaze of the Chinese Embassy, and with presence of neither lawyer nor family, the elder is secretly sentenced to 7 years in prison and taken away.

Mr. Chan’s case was exposed publicly for the first time yesterday. A permanent resident of Hong Kong who practices Falun Gong, he was visiting his family during the holiday season of 2001-2002 when he learned that Jiang Zemin was scheduled to visit the country.

Since launching his campaign against Falun Gong in 1999 (about), Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin has become known for pressuring foreign governments to act illegally, particularly during his visits. While Jiang was in Germany last April, his secret service assaulted Falun Gong practitioners (news); in Iceland last June, Jiang pressured authorities to use an illicit blacklist and barred practitioners from entering the country during his visit (news and news).

South East Asian countries, like Myanmar, have been particularly susceptible to the duress. Last August, in nearby Cambodia, an elderly couple was abducted by Chinese Embassy agents and clandestinely taken to a labor camp in China.

Falun Dafa Associations in Hong Kong, North America, Europe, and Australia have begun efforts today to appeal for Mr. Chan’s release. They have delivered letters to Myanmar officials in the capital Rangoon, as well as to Myanmar’s consulates in Hong Kong and the United States. The case is also in the process of being submitted to the United Nations and Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.

When Mr. Chan was first arrested for displaying the principles of Falun Gong in public, he was held for over a month. While in detention, officials from the Chinese Embassy supervised as local Myanmar police repeatedly demanded that Mr. Chan present a written promise to forsake practicing Falun Gong, a demand commonly imposed on practitioners in China. In exchange for acting against his conscience, they offered him personal freedom.

Mr. Chan refused.

On January 31, 2002, 71 year-old Mr. Chan was secretly sentenced to 7 years in prison and warned his family against contacting Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong.